Summary: There is more to gluttony than eating too much. It is a statement to God that you don’t trust God to take care of the future. You have to get all you can today because you aren’t sure of tomorrow.

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Funny Things Happen on the Way to the Promised Land

Exodus 16:1-5

March 13, 2005

It was the late Bronze Age, about 1,500 years or so before Jesus, and the people of Israel were coming to the end of 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Their ancestors had come to Egypt during a severe drought and famine, and were at first welcomed and given a share of the land on which to live.

But things happen. New kings came along. The Israelites fell out of favor with the ruling classes. Their old friends in the seats of power died off. They were finally made slaves.

The Egyptians were able to take away their freedom, but they were not able to extinguish the Israelite sense of being a special people set apart by God for great things. The Egyptians were not able to squelch the Israelite’s monotheistic faith, and their trust that God would one day notice their trouble, hear their prayers, and bring them deliverance.

God indeed did raise up for them a deliverer. His name was Moses. Moses was sent to the King of Egypt with the demand that his people be freed. It took a while. God had to visit Egypt with a plague or two…ten to be exact: water turned to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, diseased livestock, boils, thunder and hail, locusts, darkness, and the death of all firstborn. But finally, the king got the message and allowed the Children of Israel to go free.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Promised Land. The Israelites, despite their outward confidence in God, displayed a nagging tendency to forget what had brought them that far. They forgot that the cornerstone of their faith was believing in the promises of God and trusting that his word was good. They forgot that God had never left their ancestors even in the hardest of times. They forgot that God was always one to be counted on when the going got tough. Even though they were the products of God’s great works in the past, they displayed a conspicuous lack of faith in the future.

It happened like this. They had been gone about a month and a half and were slowly but steadily making their way toward the land that had been promised to them by God so many years before. The supplies which they had brought with them began to run low and they began to complain to Moses because they were hungry. They wondered why they had been brought out into the desert to die out there. They said that even though they had been slaves in Egypt, at least they had food to eat. They were one giant “Back to Egypt Committee,” willing to accept slavery if that meant full bellies.

But God heard their complaining. God told Moses what was going to take place. Now as often happens in the Old Testament, there are two side-by-side accounts of this. This was such an important announcement, and so long remembered by the people, that it was told twice. The accounts are slightly different, but the message is the same.

Exodus 16:4 says, “…I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day.” Verse says, “On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”

So every morning, there was a dew covering the ground. When it lifted, it left this flaky substance all around. Exodus 16:15 says that when they saw it they asked, “What is it?” The word for “what is it?“ is roughly translated as “manna.” We still don’t know what it was: maybe it was some sort of honey-like sap that oozes from trees or maybe it was something else. What we do know is that is was given in response to the people’s complaining, and it provided for them the sustenance to keep going.

But they still weren’t satisfied. They still kept complaining. So God provided them quail each evening. So they had bread in the morning and meat in the evening. God proved trustworthy. He wouldn’t abandon them.

This is the final sermon in the series of the Seven Deadly Sins. We’ve done this during the season of Lent for a reason. We have been reminded of the depths of the sin in which we live, in order to be more able to rejoice at the salvation that comes with the empty tomb. It is true that we are an Easter people,. We define ourselves by the resurrection, but the road to Easter runs through Lent. In Lent, we are reminded that sin is a reality. It is a condition of every man, woman, and child.

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